Writing: H Peart (Former student)
When walking into the Social Kitchen on a Monday morning, I am greeted by the enticing smell of coffee and the sight of students sitting together, working on their latest project or discussing an essay. Here is a great place to grab some warm food or a snack at break, and serves as a casual working environment during the day.
The school day starts at 8:45, and we meet in our div (form) groups for registration. These groups, composed of students with roughly similar A-level choices and interests, are friendly, relaxed, full of bad jokes, and led by div tutors who get the opportunity to get to know each student individually and help them throughout their time at school. On a more academic level, the depth of knowledge from teachers and facilities available for learning are outstanding. Whether it is exploring quantum phenomena or debating religion and ethics, the teachers at Challoners make learning challenging yet captivating, with homework or extra reading set to further each students’ knowledge and enthusiasm in the subject. The atmosphere in the classroom is always informal and industrious, and the co-ed environment has only served to accentuate this feel.
The facilities provided exclusively for sixth form complement its first class teaching: The Social Kitchen is a lively, relaxed area to work in collaboratively, but if you are looking for a quieter workspace then the Learning Level is convenient for silent study. The Milton Library is also available, and with its open, modern feel and thousands of books, is always a calming place to be. For group projects there are break-out rooms, and in the summer you wouldn’t want to miss sitting outside to take in the sunshine and landscaped views across New Court.
When it comes to university, the advice and support given in the sixth form is unparalleled. There are innumerable events organised, sessions run and opportunities offered to ensure UCAS applications go as smoothly as possible, and students can pursue their individual paths after yr 13. For many the Oxbridge and higher education evenings will prove inspirational and if that doesn’t help with choosing options, then timetabled meetings with the school careers advisor and enthusiastic div tutors are bound to give you direction.
This focus on education notwithstanding, the most striking thing about the sixth form is its commitment to wider instruction outside the classroom. Most students don’t finish their day at 3:45, but instead stay on to participate in the vast array of sports, music and academic clubs, which can be enjoyed on the numerous sports pitches, or in the newly refurbished music block. Out of these have come national sporting and artistic achievements, young entrepreneurs, and a surprisingly stable robot. Recent additions to the plethora have included netball club, and debating society.
Something that always brightens up my day is the lecture slot on a Thursday morning, which offers a diverse range of talks from politicians, Olympic athletes, leading business people and my favourite, from a man who walked across the entire Amazon rainforest.
Finally, and most importantly perhaps, is the emphasis on what we can do for our community. Through opportunities such as prefecting and mentoring, we can develop leadership skills and give back to the school our skills and knowledge. Sixth formers help the younger years with things ranging from spelling and maths, to simply friendly support and guidance. More often than not we are learning ourselves, such as how to throw the best snowball!
Outside the school environment, we are helped to volunteer in primary schools, care-homes or charity shops, and always encouraged to be compassionate and active members of both the school and society. We are given respect and independence whilst being supported throughout, and are inspired to look onwards and outwards from the security of the sixth form community.